There are more than 178 million internet-connected devices in the ten largest U.S. cities that are accessible to attackers, according to a new study.
“If these devices are exposed across the Internet, attackers can use a variety of available tools and techniques (Nmap, Metasploit, etc.) to gather this type of information on the system,” the study reads. “The data they are able to collect then provides them a means to compromise systems, steal and leak sensitive data, launch ransomware campaigns, or even attack critical infrastructure.”
Numaan Huq and Stephen Hilt of the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro revealed these findings at the RSA computer security conference Wednesday, according to ZDNet.
Specifically, the researchers are referring to DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, which can render portions of the internet infrastructure unusable.
A DDoS attack is when a perpetrator directs several internet-connected devices and the respective unique Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (the numerical label assigned to every device) to targeted online systems, which inundates and bombards them. (Imagine a tsunami, rather than the typical waves, hitting a beachfront).
A DDoS attack’s effects manifested itself in October after several popular websites were not working for a large portion of the Northeast. (RELATED: Internet Crashes Will Be Hard To Stop After Obama’s Internet Giveaway)
Everyday items, like refrigerators, vending machines, cars, toilets, toasters, trash cans and rectal thermometers, are now available with internet capabilities.
And as more and more devices gain such functionality, the more vulnerable they are to nefarious hackers.
But such internet-connected devices (also known as the Internet of Things, or simply IoT) could be a huge boon for the American economy.
“If policy makers and businesses get it right, linking the physical and digital worlds could generate up to $11.1 trillion a year in economic value by 2025,” reads the introduction of a McKinsey Global Institute report called, “Unlocking the potential of the Internet of Things.”
Other scholars agree.